Photo By Jamil Buergo/Sports Gateway PH
Displaying superb form and unity throughout the tournament, Team West composed of captain Mika Immonen, Shane Van Boening, Darren Appleton, and Albin Ouschan toppled Team East of Efren Reyes, Django Bustamante, brothers Ko Pin Yi and Ko Ping Chung to take the title with a final score of 10-8 in the first ever Kings Cup tournament held at the Resorts World Manila.
Leading 7-5 coming into day 3 of the tournament, Team West almost had it earlier with Darren Appleton’s 5-4 singles victory over Ko Ping Chung, Team West’s 3-on-3 win over East, 5-4.
Then the match of the tournament happened. West had its foot on the championship door as it was on its way to shutdown East with a commanding 4-0 lead. Visibly distraught, the Asians were ready to pack their things and call it a night but Team West gave chances to them. Apparently gaining confidence by winning 2 straight racks, Team East continued to pounce on every mistake West had, including an all-important miss on the 9-ball in the eighth rack that East took advantage of that evened the match 4-4. In the ninth rack of the 4-on4 match, Team East were already communicating with each other more often, something that was sorely missing in their previous team matches. That proved crucial, as they were able to steal the match to complete an incredible comeback and deny Team West of getting the title early.
With the win, Team East’s confidence went up as they were able to snatch another victory via captain’s pick match. Since the East is trailing, tournament rules allowed their captain to select who plays in the next game. Captain Reyes wasted no chance as he selected World No. 1 Ko Pin Yi and Albin Ouschan, who was struggling all-day long, as his opponent. Ko won the match easily 5-3.
Another captain’s pick match (3-on-3) seemed beneficial for Team East as Efren let Django and the Ko brothers go up against Immonen, Appleton, and Oushcan. “No Van Boening” said Reyes as he didn’t want Shane, who was Team West’s best player in the whole tournament, play in the crucial game. However, luck ran out of Team East’s side as the West team broke from a 3-3 deadlock to take the match 5-3 and the Kings Cup Title.
Shane Van Boening was adjudged as the tournament’s best player as announced by Charlie Williams, Executive Producer of Dragon Promotions. The reigning World Pool Masters champion ironically won a competition with his Mosconi Cup rivals from Europe.